Star Rating:

Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Director: David Lowery

Actors: Ben Foster, Casey Affleck, Keith Carradine

Release Date: Monday 30th November -0001

Genre(s): Drama

Running time: 96 minutes

Set in a 1970s backwater Texan town that seems to have missed out on the sixties entirely, Ruth (Mara) and Bob (Affleck) are a couple on the wrong side of the law; caught in a shootout with the local police, Bob gives himself up to protect Ruth and their unborn baby, receiving twenty-five years to life. With Bob in jail, Ruth is set up in her own house by the sympathetic widower Skerritt (Carradine) who pities the young Ruth and does what he can to keep Bob away from her when Bob eventually breaks out of prison. Tracking Bob is local sheriff Wheeler (Foster), who harbours feelings for Ruth despite her putting a bullet in his shoulder at that shootout years ago.

A story steeped in a world Cormac McCarthy and Jim Thompson have explored before, Ain't Them Bodies Saints might owe a debt of gratitude to its influences but it also earmarks director David Lowery out as a future talent with the first time filmmaker lending a lyrical style to both the script and the visuals. Every character has a story to tell, and they tell their stories eloquently, while the look of the film brings to mind Terrence Malick. Malick might be an unfair comparison because, while Lowery likes those shots of fingers caressing corn and whatnot, the narrative is tighter than the likes of Tree of Life - when Lowery opts for a close up, we're left in no doubt what is going on behind the eyes. You feel like you know Lowery's characters. You can't honestly say the same about Malick's.

While Affleck is difficult to understand again, his chemistry with Mara in the few scenes they have with each other are enough to propel their need to be together over the rest of the film. They had only three scenes to get the audience behind their once-in-a-lifetime love and they do. Mara is just wonderful and Foster turns in a mature performance. Carradine boasts real magnetism despite being confined to a sitting position for most scenes.

The pace can drag - the lack of narrative haste may suit the story and the setting, but it feels a lot longer than just ninety-six minutes - but Ain't Them Bodies Saints dips you into an authentic world. Melancholic and romantic.